Erik Canzona
The Narrows (Self-released)

For an artist in a popular band, going solo presents a bit of a conundrum: Just how close should one's individual project sound to that of his proper band? There's no wrong answer, or right one, really. And if the songs are good enough, if shouldn't matter.

However, history has shown that, most of the time, it does. Iggy Pop, for instance, carried enough of the darkness and edge of The Stooges on his debut album, The Idiot, to start off strong in the second chapter of his career. Lou Reed, however, didn't fare so well on his self-titled debut, which had neither the artful touch of The Velvet Underground, nor enough character to be all that memorable on the whole.

The Heavy Guilt aren't The Stooges or The Velvet Underground, but as local bands go, they've got more name—and song—recognition than most. And, for that matter, frontman Erik Canzona boasts one of the most recognizable voices in San Diego, his soulful pipes being one of the most powerful instruments at the band's disposal. So, Canzona's first proper solo album, The Narrows, might be met with certain expectations, or at least one specific one: Does it sound like The Heavy Guilt?

The answer is both yes and no. The constant is Canzona's songwriting, which remains tuneful and bluesy throughout The Narrows, and just about everything here stands up to his material with The Guilt. Likewise, his voice is a powerful element on the album, and though he operates with more subtlety and within quieter confines, a little goes a long way, making climactic moments like his intense rise in volume at the end of "Your Plan" all the more effective.

All the sounds on The Narrows were made by just Canzona, his Heavy Guilt bandmate Al Howard and drummer Jake Najor, though it's a surprisingly rich and full set of songs. This isn't so much a stereotypical singer / songwriter folk album as one of gothic blues in the vein of Mark Lanegan or Neko Case. On tracks like "Anchor Me" and "Forced My Hand," Canzona explores darker terrain and more varied atmospheres, and he showcases a side of his songwriting that he doesn't necessarily get to explore with his other band.

The Narrows is a powerful example of how some subtle changes can make a big difference.


Email jefft@sdcitybeat.com or follow him at @1000TimesJeff

Calendar

  • Known as the ‘Official Scripps National Spelling Bee Watch Party for Adults,’ guests can cheer on kids in the Scripps National Spelling Bee on ESPN before competing in a spelling bee themselves
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • A mass action against the closing of the UCSD University Art Gallery. Participants will meet at the Silent Tree (located near the Library Walk) and march together toward the Gallery
  • Local science illustrator Melissa Walter presents new abstract works that are literal interpretations of astronomical theories
  • So Say We All invites listeners to hear stories about real life, the internet, the ways those places intersect or the way they don't intersect at all, told by seven locals
  • The author, comic book writer, and son of Stephen King will sign his new apocalyptic thriller, The Fireman
See all events on Thursday, May 26